unclaimed bikes at police stations

  • By dabbers on at 6:48pm 4 November 2012
  • Posted in: General
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After a recent incident I had a look at the bikes in Bethnal Green police station's smoking area, 2-300 hundred bikes are sitting there unprotected from the elements. The DI told me "most of these never get claimed" I wonder how many bikes are sitting out the back of cop shops in London.. there doesn't seem to be any comprehensive way of tracking stolen bikes down, I'm thinking of approaching the Met to set up an independent database of unclaimed bikes to try and reunite them with victims of theft or robbery. Anyone doing something similar or interested?    jakedabner@gmail.com


Given that the police and local councils are marking bikes for free then the least they should be doing is checking the cycle databases when they get a bike. It would be interesting to know how many of these bikes are security marked, and if so why they haven't been reunited with their owners.

Is this a suggestion that Police don't check if a bike has been stolen even if they have registered it for free. (I had one stolen in Battersea and was marked by the Police)

One of the issues is that there is more than one way of marking a bike. The British Transport police put a chip down the seatpost of my bike and the Met used some sort of code pasted onto the frame. Each thinks their system is the best (perhaps they aren't even aware of what the other is doing). Add that to whatever systems police forces outside London are using and it's easy to identify that marking is pretty hopeless. Would a Met police officer find a chip/tag in the seat tube of my bike? I doubt it very much. Would a BTP officer look for a code on the outside of my bike? Guess not. Would either of them be able to find the bike's own serial code and bother to search any of the 3 databases that it's on....I don't think so.

My experience is that the Met lost-and-found process is awful. I handed a bike in, fully aware that if it was unclaimed that I could claim it. After the period had elapsed I went to collect the bike. They told me that it had been either 'given to a charity' or 'sold' because they couldn't store bikes for very long (about two weeks). When I complained in writing, they had a look in their yard and found the bike.  Therefore they actually had no idea whether they had the bike or not, but thought it was quicker to tell me they didn't have it.  If they don't know what they've got they can't be that eager to return a bike to its owner. Despite the truly awful return rate, the police do like to code bikes because it makes it look as if they are being pro-active when actually it's just easy and ineffective.

PS there was a time when the local Met police put on the internet up 'mug-shots' of bikes that had been handed in. They stopped doing that. Too time consuming?


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